Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Frank Roesler

FRANK ROESLER. One of the early settlers of Barton County who have done most as practical farmers and developers of the country is Frank Roesler, of Claflin, who was with a Wisconsin regiment in the Civil war until incapacitated by wounds, and after the war followed the trade of shoemaker until he came to Kansas and without special knowledge or previous experience attempted to solve the difficult problems of homesteading and farming. His career has in it many lessons of real patriotism and of encouragement to those who struggle hard for success.

He was born in Boemisch-Leiper in German Bohemia June 28, 1844. He had barely started to school in his native country when the family emigrated to America, sailing from Bremen to New York. His father, Frank Roesler, Sr., had come in advance of the family and selected a location in LaCrosse County, Wisconsin. The father spent many years as a practical farmer in Southwestern Wisconsin. From 1873 to 1884, however, he lived in Barton County, Kansas. He endured the vicissitudes of the grasshopper period, and having bought a relinquishment he proved up a homestead. Eventually feeling that his efforts could never accomplish the results he desired, he sold out and returned to Wisconsin. He happened to be one who could get away, while many others who would have gone found themselves without the means to accomplish their removal. He claimed the Lord sent the grasshoppers that the homesteaders who were proving up might have aid sent them from the East and thereby stay, while those who were here and had a few dollars ahead could manage to stay without aid. Frank Hoesler lived to the venerable age of eighty-four, having survived his wife, whose maiden name was Agnes Wanner. They had the following children: Frank; Joseph, of Hollyrood, Kansas; Ed, who lives in LaCrosse County, Wisconsin; Adolph, in the State of Washington; Herman, of LaCrosse County; Mary, wife of Frank Strup, of Wisconsin; and Anna, who married Frank Wolf and died in Wisconsin.

Frank Roesler had a limited education in the district schools, and as a boy learned the trade of shoemaker and followed that vocation steadily until he volunteered as a Union soldier. In 1863 he enlisted in Company F but was soon transferred to Company C of the Ninth Wisconsin Infantry, under Colonel Solomon. The regiment had its first field duty in Arkansas, and after some skirmishing entered a pitched battle at Jenkins Ferry. There Mr. Roesler was wounded. The first ball hit him just at the top of the pelvic bone and was little more than a flesh wound, but the second shot wont through his right breast and retired him from further service. He recuperated in the hospital at Little Rock and was discharged there in May, 1865. Having thus proved his devotion to his country he returned home and as soon as possible resumed shoemaking.

Mr. Roesler came to Kansas in February, 1876, traveling by rail from Wisconsin and leaving the railroad at Ellinwood. He bought a half section of railroad land on eleven years time. He had enough money after the first payment to buy a team and build a little home comprising a house 14 by 20 feet and costing about $100. The ground broken the first year yielded him 350 bushels of wheat. For the first five years crops were scarce, but he succeeded in living, if living it can be called, from the land. As a matter of fact there was little or no work to which he might have turned outside of his farm for the purpose of eking out the meager income. Having sat on a cobbler's bench for many years he had no knowledge of farming when he came to Kansas, and could not hitch up a horse properly. He put his confidence in wheat and sowed that cereal year after year, at the same time raising some cattle and horses. Six months before the expiration of his contract with the railroad company, when he was refused an extension of time, he had to place a mortgage on his land. For five years he paid ten per cent on this borrowed money and then lifted the mortgage when it was due.

Mr. Roesler had been in Kansas fifteen years before he was able to get more land. His first quarter section cost $2,800, and later he bought a half section for $5,000. He also bought and sold some land largely as a matter of speculation. He built several country homes for his sons, these substantial improvements being about 2 1/2 miles from Claflin. It is to his credit that he has brought about 700 acres of land under cultivation. At Claflin he built one of the best business houses and also the substantial brick residence in which he lives.

During his active life in the country Mr. Roesler served thirty years as a member of the school board of district No. 23. That constitutes his only official service. He cast his first presidential vote for Mr. Lincoln in 1864. He says he is "pretty near a straight republican." He was reared in the Catholic faith but is not a member of any church. He is identified with both branches of Odd Fellowship.

While Mr. Roesler has had many material adversities and trials, he has always been most happy in his domestic life. He married at LaCrosse, Wisconsin, July 3, 1866, Miss Caroline Anderson. She was born in Norway and was brought to the United States when three years old and about the same time that Ole Bull, the great Swedish violinist, came over. Her father, Andrew Anderson, was a carpenter and died in North Dakota. Mrs. Roesler has a brother, Peter, who served in the Civil war in the Fifteenth Wisconsin Infantry.

The record of the children of Mr. and Mrs. Roesler is as follows: Frank, who owns the telephone exchange at Hoisington; Emanuel and Alfred, both farmers near Claflin; Josie, now Mrs. Gust Daughter, of Stillwater, Oklahoma; and Emily, wife of William Wilkinson, of Hoisington, who was in the United States Marines during the World war. Besides this son-in-law Mr. Roesler is proud of the fact that two of his grandsons helped in winning the great war. One is Ray Roesler, a son of Frank, Jr., and a signal officer in the artillery service in France. The other is Frank Daughter, son of Mrs. Gust Daughter of Oklahoma, who was a member of an ambulance corps in France.

Pages 2438-2439.